Sunday, November 24, 2013

. . . and another personal record!!!!

If we celebrate the traditional PRs . . . . I'm thinking I should also be celebrating my PWs too!!

For you non-runners, a PR is a "personal record" or a personal best.  As we get older, we runners get quite creative in ways to have a PR!!  Instead of lifetime records, we start looking at annual records, or course records, or even a record time with "these shoes!"  ANYTHING that makes us feel like we did something good!!

And as you might guess a PW is a personal worst.  Honestly we usually try to sweep these under the carpet and simply ignore them.  At least in public!  Privately we do remember these times of under-achievement and failures.  Actually they serve as terrific motivation so we don't embarrass ourselves in the future!

Well . . . this weekend I had a PW at the Crooked Road 24 Hour!  19 frickin' miles!!!  That is averaging just under .8 miles per hour!  Or a 75:47 pace per mile!!!!  My previous PW was 31 miles I believe . . . and that was just before hip surgery!!! 

But in all honestly I didn't run the full 24 hours.  In fact, I hardly "ran" at all!!  I ran a slow interval (run 2-3 minutes and walk a minute) for the first 6 miles . . . after that I only walked!

And I quit at about 2:30 pm . . . so I really only went 6 1/2 hours . . . that is a 20:31 pace!!  LOL with six miles of that were probably at a 13-14 minute pace.  Truth is I was "glacial" the last 13 miles or so!!!

If I had continued on maybe I could have finished 30-35 miles . . . MAYBE!!!!  But I just decided to "tuck my tail between my legs" and scamper home!!!

Oh . . . wait . . . I was at the very first running of the Crooked Road 24 hour back in 2011.  This was about 3 months AFTER my hip surgery and I did "do" one lap backwards that year so I could take pictures of folks.  Of course I wasn't an "official" entrant in that run . . . I was only there to volunteer so I'm not sure if that should count as my PW or not!! 

Hmmmmm . . . . maybe yesterday wasn't so bad!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

4+ Miles in Eaton's Ferry Estates

Okay . . . when I thought about doing this I really thought it might be awesome!!

Well . . . it's not!

I thought I could document my 4.2 mile run in my subdivision and it would be interesting and you might be able to get a sense of the run.  Just didn't really work out!  But there are some pretty shots!  And the run itself really is nice!  You can't really see it here but Lake Gaston is visible for probably 90% of the run.  Actually is nice to see but you can't tell it here.

And there really are some hills here!!  LOL!  Hard to tell with these pictures but it really isn't flat!  Now . . . don't get me wrong . . . there aren't really BIG hills . . . but you still do a lot of small ups and downs!!!

Anyway . . . here is the route!

Start at my house . . .  This is actually downhill!!

Now a short but fairly steep uphill . . .

Okay . . . we are a tad over 1/2 mile . . .  Going to turn right here!!

Another short but steep up . . .

Just past the 1 mile point . . .

At the turnaround . . .

The bottom of this hill is the 2 mile point . . .

Another uphill . . .
 But you get to go down too! . . .

 Turnaround point #2 . . .  essentially at the 3 mile point here.  The neighborhood has marked routs for several distances . . .

One mile to go from here . . .

 Long slow up . . .

But the down comes too!  

 Last final uphill to my house . . .

4.2 miles DONE!

Like I said . . . this seemed like a good idea when I decided to do it!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Migration of thought . . .

What is possible?  What's impossible?  What should we do?  What is best for us?  What will hurt us?  What should I eat?  What should I avoid eating?  How far can a human run?  How far should we run?  How much is too much?  What hurts our joints?

As athletes, we all have these questions and we are constantly searching for the perfect answer.  One that allows us to be the best we can be and guide us through our endeavors injury free.  So . . . what do we do?

Simple . . . we look to experts to guide us!

We read scientific studies.  We search for and listen to the PhD experts who have studied and researched our questions!  And we believe them.  Especially if they are saying what we personally think or tend to believe!!

I ran my first marathon in 1982.  And I just plain "blew up" at mile 17.  Nausea struck followed by a mental collapse!!  Devastating!  I wanted a sub 4 hour finish but I struggled in at around 4:35 or so with my tail between my legs!  Oh . . . I was happy and proud to have completed my first marathon for sure!  But there was disappointment too because I knew I had mentally collapsed.  Maybe no one else knew . . . but I did!!!  And I wanted revenge!  I wanted that sub 4 marathon!

So I wanted to run another just as soon as I could!  And what did I do?  I consulted the "experts" on what I should do!  Advice from Runners World was the only source of information I had available plus a few books on running.  Their combined advice?

"The human body takes time to fully recover from the exertion of running 26.2 miles.  So, even though you may feel rested a week or two later, you shouldn't run that far again for a full 26 weeks!" 

That's right!!  The human body can only take running 2 marathons a year!!!  Hahahaha!!!!

I'm sure there were runners out there who realized this was total bullshit!  But I didn't know any of them!  I had my circle of friends and none had ever run past 26.2 miles and none did marathons frequently!  So I believed "the experts!"

I waited 6 months to run my second marathon and I did achieve my goal!!  My personal record of 3:58!

Well . . . over time I've learned this advice was just plain stupid.  I have friends that run a marathon or longer every single weekend!  I have friends that run a marathon almost every day!!!  Only run 2 marathons a year???  Just sooooo wrong!

The experts used to say that the human body just runs out of all stored energy at around the 18-20 mile point of running.  And the last 6-8 miles to finish a marathon simply tear the body down!!  The human body really can't take distances longer than a marathon!!!  Hahaha!!

Tell that to friends I know that run 130 - 150 miles in 24 freakin' hours!!!  Or finishers of Vol State . . . a 314 mile race through Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and ending in Georgia!!  The fastest time so far?  Joe Fejes finished in 3 days, 8 hours 10 minutes and 17 seconds!!!!

Oh . . . and by the way . . . fat is bad for you!  The best diets avoid all fats . . . especially if you are trying to lose weight!!!  Right!!

Salt is terrible for you!  It causes high blood pressure!  Well . . . if this were true my blood pressure would be through the roof!  If I do get high pressure when I get old (not there yet!!!  LOL!) I might try backing off the salt some.  But until I do . . . stay the fuck away from my salt!!!

How about vegetarian diets to optimize health?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Lots of studies and opinions both ways!  In my mind avoiding meat due to ethical beliefs about the treatment of animals is valid.  Avoiding meat for health reasons may be right . . . or it may be wrong.  I simply don't know.

To each, their own!  But don't freakin' quote to me what the experts say!  They mean well, but ANYTHING they say is really more of an opinion they hold.  I believe all research is flawed!!  We may not fully understand where the flaws are . . . but they are flaws there none the less!!

Today we have the internet which provides each of us with easy access to unbelievably HUGE amount of information.  Not available in 1982!!!!  Now we can find studies to "prove" anything we want to prove or disprove!!  How convenient!!

But to me . . . the internet provides us with access to other people with differing ideas.  People who have tried the "impossible."  Heck . . . people who do the impossible every single day!!

We can listen!  We can learn.  We can share.  We can break down our own barriers about what is possible and how to achieve the impossible ourselves.  What to try and what we choose to avoid!

And when it comes down to it, we just have to make up our own minds as to what we want to try.  Nothing works for everyone the same way!!

A friend of mine gave me a book called "Fixing Your Feet" by John Vonhof.  I was having tons of trouble with blisters when I would get out around  40 miles or so in a race and I needed to find a solution if I was ever going to be able to finish a 100 mile run.  He gave me this book to "solve my problem" so I excitedly began reading in!  And I was VERY disappointed!

The book NEVER told me what I needed to do to solve my blister problems.  Instead the author had interviewed numerous ultra runners about what they did for their foot problems . . . blister included.  And for each problem, he laid out various solutions and approaches these true experts had for for themselves that worked for them!  And they were all different!!   WTF?

But I started trying the ones that seemed to make to most sense to me given what I thought I knew about myself.  And I have now blundered in a blister prevention approach that usually seems to work for me.

I now believe John Vonhof was BRILLIANT!  There is no single answer for anything!  We just have to search around and keep trying out things until we finds ones that seem to work for us!Listen to everyone.  Believe no one . . . but yourself!

Okay . . . rant over!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Got to plan my CR24 strategy . . .

Okay . . . Croatan24 is done . . . in the books and it's time to start thinking forward to Crooked Road 24!  The key to success will be building a solid strategy and plan . . . then executing that plan precisely!

Crooked Road Mountain!!

Coming towards the end of the loop.

A good plan needs simplicity and brilliance plus a degree of flexibility . . .  so here it is:

Start the race, run a while and see how it goes!  Then, adjust as necessary!

Damn that's a good plan . . . I can actually follow this one!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Now THAT was one hell of a birthday!!

This year it turned out that the Croatan 24 race was on November 9-10 and November 10th is my birthday!  Didn't take much for me to decide that this was going to be a great way to have some fun!

Actually the race was intended to honor the birthday of the Marine Corp and the race participants were urged to use the race as a means to support The MARSOC Foundation . . . "established to provide benevolent support to active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families as well as to the families of Marines and Sailors who have lost their lives in service to our Nation."  What a great thing to do!

Unfortunately . . . I had a group of people who had pledged their financial support to the American Cancer Society for my April Virginia 24 race.  I had an accident falling from a ladder (and later surgery on problems from that accident) and couldn't run that race.  Luckily all the folks had agreed to defer their support to the Croatan24.  I felt a little bad about that but Race Director Brandon Wilson told me not to worry.  So I didn't!

Birthdays . . . mile and the Marine Corp

So this was my birthday as well as the Marine Corp birthday!  Honestly, birthdays are no big deal to me at all  I drove my family crazy that I to me it's just another day!

Suzanne Ballard's birthday was also close as was one other lady whose name I missed, so Suzanne brought some "head thingys" to wear . . . don't be too envious!  Wore mine the first lap and the last!  Lots of fun!
Even Valmir Nunes was jealous and wanted a picture with Suzanne and me!

If you are a runner, you know how a kind word while you are running just plain lifts your spirits!  And in an ultra even, we all constantly are trying to lift the spirits of everyone around us!!  That's one of the main reasons I love ultrarunning and ultrarunners . . . honestly the most supportive group of folks I've ever been around!  So I decided to have some fun with them and had a special birthday shirt printed for the race.

Talk about an idea that worked!!  I had a blast with kidding around with everyone!  If you aren't an ultrarunner you may not full understand the BRILLIANCE of my idea!!  LOL!  First the shirt did give runners something to talk about!  But more than that it gave them something really hard to do and think about as they ran!  Math becomes quite hard to do as your mind just plain doesn't work so well as the miles add up.  And trying to do long division in your head is quite the challenging task!!  So for a long, long time I wouldn't tell people how old I was . . . I told them to figure it out themselves!!  While the answer is 64, I got some really funny answers!!  I thinks folks enjoyed it as much as I did!

Never in my life have I had so many people wish me a happy birthday!!!

The Course
I simply can't imagine a prettier place to run a 24 hour race.  The track was a 1.3 mile loop through coastal salt marshes and tidal forests.  You really just had to be there . . .

The Race
I had a great race.  Actually ran a PR (Personal Record for you non-runners!)  57.53 miles.  But one of the BAD things about 24 hour race is you can think about all the many things that happened and that you did that held you back from even higher miles!!  Secretly I had really, really hoped I could run my age . . . 64 miles!  Now THAT would have been awesome!  But stuff happened that kept me from doing it!  Still . . . I was very pleased.

Over a 24 hour period a whole lot happens!  You have peaks and you definitely have valleys!  The peaks are great but the valleys are the key.  They just challenge your mind . . . way more difficult than challenging your body.  I honestly came within a hair of quitting at about 8 miles!!!  My toe hurt soo bad!  But a friend messaged me and reminded me that there was a good chance that the pain might subside with time and miles . . . and it did! Thank God for technology and smart friends!  The pain was always there but manageable.  There were periods it would get bad . . . but then the pain would back off some.  That went on the whole 24 hours.

Running bends your foot way more than simply walking. And flexing my toes is what causes my pain.  So to ease the moving of my toe I quit running around noon Saturday and decide to simply walk.  A good and necessary call but not running held me back.  Walking just takes too long to cover the miles I had wanted to do.  When I did the math it was clear 64 miles was impossible without more running  But I could have done 60 miles if I hadn't slept for 1 1/2 hours!!  Damn!

But other than my foot issues and some blister problems, I felt great! Okay . . . great at the first and still motivated at the end!  I was still moving strong when the race ended.  I had more in me that I just didn't have time to let out!!

A few special memories from the day in no particular order:
  • Just after midnight, I had an awesome version of "Today is Your Birthday Day" by the Dooms!!  They had obviously planned the song out as they each had their own parts!!  Loved it and I smiled a bunch of miles thinking about it!
  • Just finished another lap past midnight and when I got to the aid station, Heather Wilson presented me with a birthday cake . . . picked out by her awesome daughter Rebekah!  Was a little disappointed that there was no dancing girl in popping out though . . .
  • The eventual winner, Mosi Smith, just made my race!  What a cool Marine!  One of the nicest and most humble folks I've met!  He makes America proud!
  • Marine Major General Mark Clark (Commander of MARSOC) joining the fun for his first ultra . . . running over 43 miles!  A fun guy too!
  • Jonathan Savage is just an awesome guy!  Always trying to help and motivate others like it's his responsibility!  Just don't know of any other runner that has studied and knows that much about our sport.
  • The opening ceremony for the race was honestly amazing!  Presenting the colors, the cake cutting, the playing of the National Anthem  . . . just a very, very special day.
  • Had dinner Friday night with Valmir Nunes and Connie Gardner!  So much fun talking with those two!  Of course it took an interpreter to talk with Valmir as he speaks Portuguese!
  • Caleb Wilson positioned himself after the first bridge and took it upon himself to "high five" everyone that passed . . . every time!!  He was so happy and enthusiastic!  Made me smile every lap he was there!  And when he finally left (after maybe 8-10 hours) I really missed seeing him!!!
  • I love running miles with Susan Dummar!  Time just passes quickly . . . and I laugh a lot!!
  • Was so impressed with another marine I sort of got to know during the race, Maj Jeff Harrison.  Seems like a great guy and was trying his first ultra . . . oh . . . and he completed over 50 miles!!
  • Charles West just coming down to the race to help out and see friends!  Awesome!
  • Getting to see two running friends do what in my mind is almost impossible (though there are plenty that do it!!) . . . running 100 miles + in the 24 hours!  This was a first for both John Dailey and Tim Scott - two more just plain awesome Marines I've gotten to sort of know.
  • Also, getting to see Cam Kelly totally annihilate his best 100 mile race time by 6 FREAKIN' HOURS!!!!!  He finished in 21:17!!  Unbelievable!
  • Loved that every time Cherie Yanek passed me she slapped my butt for my birthday spanking!!  And she passed me a lot as she completed about 110 miles!!!
  • Ended up raising just over $2,700 for the American Cancer Society.  I thought about this the whole way.  I knew that each mile I did added over $47 to the contributions . . . so I REALLY wanted to go just as far as I possibly could.  The time I thought about quitting I thought of this!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Croatan 24 . . . a look forward

Okay . . . the inter-hypochondriac in me needs to just be still!

I'm in as good of physical shape as I've been in quite awhile.  My weight is down and my runs are stronger.  I honestly believe I am now in about as good of physical shape as I was last April when I had my accident.  I haven't done any really long runs, but my daily runs of 4-8 miles have been great . . . no walking at all!  So I'm expecting good things.

Last April I had a bunch of great friends that were supporting me by agreeing to donate money on a "per mile basis" to the American Cancer Society . . . one of the charities that I personally have decided to support.  Had I finished 50 miles, they would have contributed $2,360.  But . . . if I had finished 65 miles they would have forked over $3,033!  The more I do the more they pay!! 

But just before the Virginia 24 I had an accident and got hurt.

Most of my donors have agreed to defer their donation until later . . . and later is the Croatan 24!!

I kind of feel funny about this because the Croatan24 is raising money for MARSOC . . . but my donors are donating to the American Cancer Society.  RD says it's all good so I'm moving on!

So my physical condition is actually pretty good (assuming my hip and my toe agree!!) and I'm planning to go at this just as hard as I possibly can.  True . . . "as hard as I possibly can" isn't all that hard!!  And I have no idea how my training will work out (more running and less miles!).

But I'm planning to give this one all I've got.  I was disappointed in my Hinson Lake effort and this is my chance for redemption!!  Both my hip and my toe are potential issues, but I honestly believe they are as ready for this challenge as I am! Plus, I've got some personal reasons I just want to do good.  And if I can channel this inter frustration . . . . look out! 

So what will be good at the Croatan 24 Hour?
  • 50 miles is a minimum level of acceptability.  MINIMUM.
  • Could I do 70 miles?  I would sure like to think so but this would be a stretch goal for sure.  Any more is just not realistic.
So that is my bracket . . . 50-70.

Strategy?  Well . . . like Mike Morton said at about the 100 mile point at Badwater when ask about his strategy . . . "Well, I just going to run!"  So that is mine.

I plan to run intervals (maybe 3/1s) for as long as I can . . . and then walk what I have to!  The key is to just keep going.  It's a 24 hour race and I need to use all 24 hours!!  That is honestly the key for real success . . . staying out on the course, moving froward as I can.  Slow is better than "no"!!  Cold weather is always a challenge to mental toughness so I may have to face that one as well.

I don't have a crew or a support group to assist me.  A crew would really be awesome!  But I've never had one.  Realistically I should be okay all by myself.  I've pretty much learned I am my own most dependable friend and supporter anyway!!  LOL!!!!!  You never know where you stand with anyone else . . .but you KNOW where you stand with yourself.  So I have my best supporter with me!!  LOL!

So . . . if I can execute this strategy and my hip and toe cooperate . . . 70 miles is a possibility!!

And who knows . . . maybe the dollars I raise will be the dollars that will kick cancer's ass!  How cool would that be?

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.